Reviews

Elektra by Jennifer Saint @jennysaint @wildfirebks @bookywookydooda #Elektra #JenniferSaint #GreekMythology #BookReview #TheClqrt #BookBlog #Clytemnestra #Cassandra

Wildfire Books 28th April 2022

Book Description

The House of Atreus is cursed.

A bloodline tainted by a generational cycle of violence and vengeance.

This is the story of three women, their fates inextricably tied to this curse, and the fickle nature of men and gods.

Clytemnestra

The sister of Helen, wife of Agamemnon – her hope of averting the curse are dashed when her sister is taken to Troy by the feckless Paris. Her husband raises a great army against them, and determines to win, whatever the cost.

Cassanadra

Princess of Troy, and cursed by Apollo to see the future but never to be believed when she speaks of it. She is powerless in her knowledge that the city will fall.

Elektra

The youngest daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, Elektra is horrified by the bloodletting of her kin. But, can she escape the curse, or is her own destiny also bound by violence?

My Thoughts

Thank you so much to Caitlin Raynor for my early personalised copy of Elektra – I screamed when I opened it! I love Greek mythology and was a fan of Ariadne (reviewed here) so this second book from Jennifer Saint was very highly anticipated.

A magnificent feminist retelling of the Trojan War. Three key women – skilfully chosen by the author to give an original and unique perspective to the familiar stories we know so well. All three women linked to the House of Atreus – to Agamemnon. Collectively these three women – Clytemnestra, Cassandra and Elektra detail the war commencing with the expulsion of Paris from Troy as a baby as told by Cassandra. Heart wrenchingly we hear from Clytemnestra as her eldest daughter is sacrificed for a fair wind to get the Greek army to Troy and the subsequent polarisation of her and her youngest daughter, Elektra – forever loyal to her absent father.

The Troyan War continues in the background as the lives of these women remain solidly in the fore, the book is rich in detail and is a superb and remarkable retelling. Agamemnon features as father and husband and I was particularly impressed with how the author sensitively explored this man via the lens of these two women – wife and mother of his children, Clytemnestra and daughter, Elektra. Helen as sister to Clytemnestra was also portrayed in a different light and not just as the catalyst for the war – the face that launched 1000 ships, it was nice to see her depicted in a more rounded way. And Cassandra the pain of her curse, always slightly on the outside, seeing but never believed following the brutality of Apollo.

There are lots of feminist retellings of these stories now, in truth I enjoy them all but not all of them genuinely succeed in keeping the women centre stage. For me that does not detract from my enjoyment of the story but it is a fair criticism. Jennifer Saint excelled in this respect and in my opinion Elektra, while very different can draw comparisons to A Thousand Ships (reviewed here) in the way it successfully explores the female experience. Jennifer Saint demonstrates once again how these glorious stories have survived the test of time and there is plenty there to justify the recent resurgence in retellings and indeed their subsequent popularity.

About the Author

Due to a lifelong fascination with Ancient Greek mythology, Jennifer Saint read Classical Studies at King’s College, London. She spent the next thirteen years as an English teacher, sharing a love of literature and creative writing with her students. Jennifer’s debut novel, ARIADNE was a Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller. ELEKTRA is her second.

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